The fuse at the al-Aqsa Mosque
more horsing around
Israeli Police today arrested 30 ultra-nationalist Israeli citizens (members of the hard right Zionist group Revava) and banned four members of the Knesset from profaning the Esplanade of the Mosques (Haram al Sharif) today. Police brutality, however, was reserved young Palestinians, who had organized a counterdemonstration in the Old City after Israeli authorities banned under-40 Arab men from accessing the esplanade. Meanwhile, Hamas leader Hassan Youssef entered the esplanade and was immediately arrested.
As a forshadowing of more violence to come in the Middle East, the rector of the al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo--the highest spiritual authority in Sunni Islam--warned that the region would be inflamed if Revava "violated the sacred character of the Al-Aqsa Mosque".
Violence and bloodshed are a familiar commodity on the esplande since 1967 but on the very day of Ariel Sharon's arrival in Crawford, I suspect some conniving concerning Revava's timing. Sharon will claim he cannot control his people, oh my! Therefore Bush must be understanding. President Bush is such a swaggering trash talker--let's see what he tells Sharon.
Then there is an Israeli pattern of provoking an incident--precisely in order to use overwhelming force against the Palestinians. Sort of reminds me of--Bush and Rumsfeld's invasion of Iraq!
The timeline below reviews the 40 year sequence of unfortunate events on the Esplanade.
21 Aug 69. Fire at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem destroys much of the structure; found to be the work of an isolated Australian Christian tourist.
25 Sep 69. Oganization of Islamic Conferences (OIC) formed in response to fire.
11 Apr 82. Israeli & US dual national Allen Goodman enters al-Aqsa mosque & opens fire, killing 2 & wounding 30.
28 Jan 84. Israeli police discover explosives placed around al-Aqsa, claimed by a Jewish group, “Terror against Terror”.
23 Sep 96. Netanyahu decides to open “Hasmonean tunnel” in Jerusulem, running alongside al-Aqsa Mosque to exit onto Via Dolorosa. Ensuing rioting leaves 61 Palestinians & 15 Israelis dead, largely in Ramallah. Strict closure again implemented by Israel. SCR1073 (28Sept) indirectly calls for the closure of the tunnel; US abstains.
28 Sep 00. Ariel Sharon takes 1000 Israeli armed police onto Haram al-Sharif.
And every time the Israelis take a provocative step at al-Aqsa, guess what? The Palestinians react in unfriendly way. Arafat's incarceration at Ramallah and the invasion of Palestinian cities and towns in Gaza and the West Bank were the result of the violence unleashed after Sharon's stroll at al-Aqsa. Could this just be concidence?
Update: Oh yes, the Israelis were definitely not on good behavior in the run-up to Sharon's trip to Crawford.
They announced a plan to build a huge garbage dump--on Palestinian lands. They shot dead 3 teenagers in the Gaza Strip and confiscated 150 acres of Arab farmland, saying it was for military purposes (this makes it nice and legal in their part of the world).